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Looking to buy - what do I need to know.


JoeUtz
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I am new to the Avanti (fell in love with one back in High School but that was from afar and at a time with no money) but times change and now I would like to purchase one for myself. But before I spend my money I would like to get some help so that I can make an informed purchase. I would be interested in a 1963 or maybe a 1964 and since I live in Florida would probably favor an R-1 with A/C. But I am sure there is more to it than that. As a corvette owner I know that the internet is full of advertisements that sound great and do not lie but kind of leave out some of the important things (like for a corvette "matching numbers". "original engine", correct color etc - you get the idea). What I don't know is what to look for in an Avanti, I have herd about the "Hough Troughs" but do not know where to look for them on the car. In addition I do not know what is available along the lines of after-market parts, and what can or can't be easily replaced during a restoration. I have seen some cars advertised with "wood grained appearance to the dash and console" and some without - was this an original option or was this just added by the owner. Where do you look for the engine stamp on an Avanti engine? What are the desirable options and what came standard on the car? I really don't know what questions to ask (and that is an easy way to lose a lot of money). Any help would be appreciated. Is there a buyers guide out there - some place to look for information to become an educated buyer?

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Joe

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Welcome Joe. Some of the things to be leery of, are rust issues of the metal parts. The 'A' pillars can rust under the stainless trim. The sub floor rocker panel torque boxes (hog troughs) are an expensive item to replace, but necessary for body rigidity, and ties the roll bar to the frame. The frame itself is another place that will frequently rust. Check the front of the rear leaf spring area, and the rear tubular crossmember. Upper control arm bushings wear relatively fast. Steering linkages have a lot of grease fittings, and if overlooked, can cause sloppy steering,

Interior stainless trim is very hard to find.

An R1 has pretty high compression for todays crappy gas. If you find an original car, it may be prone to overheat, unless you remove the core plugs, and flush out the block. You may often find wires left over from the casting cores, and a build up of sediment. Composition head gaskets will lower the compression by 1/2 a point. The original brakes are expensive to replace, but work well for the era of the vehicle. (newer upgrades are available, and don't deduct judging points(saftey)).

R2 engines superchargers are expensive to rebuild, and all the bracketry is too. Lesser Studebaker parts sometimes are substituted for heavier duty Avanti parts, and wont do the job as well (fuel pump, water pump, distributor, cam timing gear).

Interior kits are usually inferior to stock. Find a good upholsterer.

Power windows are often balky and need servicing/or motors. The inside of the doors can break from the torque of the window mechanism if the tracks get out of alignment, or lube dries out. (easily reinforced if you're handy).

The rest is pretty much straight forward old car piccadillos.

You will be pleasantly surprised at the good availability of parts, and how well they drive, when everything is up to snuff.

The wood grained dash overlays were a stock addition after certain serial numbers.

Rare and desireable options are tilt wheel, and AM/FM radio. and of course the R3 engine!

The engine number is stamped into a pad located on the top of the block on the drivers side, near a crescent shaped block off plate that is bolted . R1 serial #s would start with R XXX....and R2's would start with RS XXX . (X being the particular engine number)

A 4Speed is slightly more valuable than an auto to collectors.

do

Edited by brad
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Welcome.

Studebaker's go for more money and are seen as more "collectable" than the later Avanti IIs. And if you want a Studebaker, you might as well get a stock one...if you want it cusomized, you might as well buy a "II" because they generally cost less, are newer, have easily modified GM engines, have more and later options, etc.

You've done some homework if you know that AC only came in the R-1s.

To answer one of your questions, the wood grain dash and steering wheel is generally associated with 64s, but they were introduced late in the 63 model year.

As far as parts go, it's generally not a problem as many mechanical bits were interchangeable with other Studebakers, and the production of the Avanti II helped as well. Ther are several Studebaker parts suppliers as wellas specialists in Avantis to help.

If you're looking at a car, be aware the interiors can be very expensivve to return to stock if they're in bad shape...many interior parts as NLA or only available used.

As with any old car, buy the best one you can afford, it will be cheaper in the long run. Solid cars needing restoration start at $15,000 and you can get a nice restored one for $30k.

When I rebuilt my engine (it was running fine but since it was out of the car during its restoration...why not?) I lowered the compressin from 10.5 to about 9 to one by using semi dished Studebaker pistons, no big deal. Likewise, the elec window motors are available ..for a price ($200). Neither are show stoppers.

To answer many of your questions I'd recommend this website... http://www.theavanti.net/ or for tech details, try their technical section... http://www.theavanti.net/technical.html

I'd aslo recommend the Studebaker Drivers Club forum. http://forum.studeba...ific-Discussion

Let us know if we can help.

Edited by J Boyle
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Pay for a good restored car from the west. Most east-of-the-Mississippi cars usually have frame and support issues. Shipping is less expensive than fixing.

Avoid power window cars if at all possible. They are a failed design and will always be a problem. Not a deal breaker, but a chronic irritation.

The good news is a really nice Avanti will be less than half as much as an equivalent condition Corvette.

jack vines

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Either should run fine on current fuels as long as it's well tuned for your location and you drive it in a sane fashion. But every car is different in that regard.

Power windows are a pain...no question but if the windows are properly adjusted and the mechanism lubed, you'll have few issues. The problem there is they're a real pain to adjust and align. There are multiple adjustments to be made...get one correct and then the next messes it up. Whether it's a power window car or not makes no difference, but a power window car is far more prone to problems with age and poor maintenance over the years. Look at it this way...Studebaker (and all other manufacturers) didn't build their cars to last fifty years. They probably didn't expect them to even be on the road after so long. If they got through the warranty period trouble free was about the best they could want.

It's not the seat covers themselves that are the problem...a good upholsterer can use the old sets covers as a pattern and replicate them...I've had that done twice with Avantis. It's finding correct vinyl that's the problem...depending on the color.

A/C...that's a real double edge sword. Those old systems can still do a good job of cooling the interior. The problem is lack of certain key parts should you need them. Last Fall the evaporator under the dash blew on my car. There are no good replacements left...just used evaporators "that worked when they were removed". I saw no point in installing an evaporator at least as old as the one that just went bad. My car is at Myer's Studebaker now having the system converted to a modern integrated unit by Michael Myer. It's not a job for the faint of heart.

One way to look at a/c cars is what a fellow many years ago told me...he said he specifically did not buy a/c cars. He said there were two things that could go wrong with a car...the a/c system or the rest of the car. By not buying a car with a/c he felt he was eliminating 50% of his potential problems.

A lot depends on what you want out of the car...a true correct Avanti, a modified car or you don't care as long as it's in good condition. Purchase price can change a lot depending on that.

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Joe,

I just sold my 1964 R4888 R2 so I may be an information source for your Avanti interest. I made a few mistakes and learned a lot from my ownership. The advice here is very good. If you want more I have followed Avanti sales for some time. Right now pickin's are slim.

Dave Pyle 713 464 6717 • dap8@comcast.net

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Joe,

Right now pickin's are slim.

Dave Pyle 713 464 6717 • dap8@comcast.net

Dave,

Why do you think that is?

People not advertising in the winter, or a real shortage of non-project cars for sale?

In other words, do you think it might be a sign of increasing interest and/or the long awaited upsurge in Avanti values? (Sales at recent auctions seem to brought good prices)

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I really don't know. I consider eBay something of a barometer and there is a dearth of Studebaker Avantis in recent months. OTOH there are serious buyers for good (non auctioned) cars. I confess I do not understand the auction business or participate. How they get those prices eludes me.

I do not see an upsurge is values in the last year despite very good press. I think sellers who price unrealistically will be disappointed, and those waiting for appreciation may have a long wait.

It is a narrow market for these cars. The buyer for mine was attracted by an auction car that sold for a much higher price. Does the auction convey value?

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FWIW, I consider myself hard core school, didn't own an AC car for the first fifteen years I drove. However, IMHO, an Avanti without AC isn't habitable. Even with doing all the necessary mods; the later transmission tunnel ventilation kit, careful sealing of the firewall and lining with insulation/sound deadener, on a hot day it will still be like driving a sauna.

AC can and has been added to R2 cars. Todays smaller compressors and the aftermarket kits make the job much easier. Your results may vary.

jack vines

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FWIW, I consider myself hard core school, didn't own an AC car for the first fifteen years I drove. However, IMHO, an Avanti without AC isn't habitable. Even with doing all the necessary mods; the later transmission tunnel ventilation kit, careful sealing of the firewall and lining with insulation/sound deadener, on a hot day it will still be like driving a sauna.

AC can and has been added to R2 cars. Todays smaller compressors and the aftermarket kits make the job much easier. Your results may vary.

jack vines

I'm inclined to agree as when I first purchased my 83 you could put your hand on the carpet and it felt dang warm on the firewall and floor, certainly "sauna like". When I tore the interior out of it I plugged every hole I could find and added two layers of Fat Mat to the firewall,console and front floors and that helped as the floor is much cooler. Judy and I took a 100 mile sorte to the local Avanti Zone Meet last summer in 93 deg weather. It was was tolerable at 70+ MPH with the windows down and all vents open but I'm leaving room on the front of the SBC in my 74 just in case I like it better than the 83. One of them is getting AC.

Just from an overall comfort standpoint, AC has to be one of the better adds to an Avanti.

Bob

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Bob, I'm in total agreement with you that AC is highly desirable. As much as I'd love the power of an R2, I would not want the being inside a greenhouse feeling one would have driving it in warm weather. My first Avanti was an R1 with air back in 66 and it was comfortable in warm weather. My current Avanti is a 76 with air. The AC lost its charge driving to Gettysburg in June 2011 and it got nice and warm in the car during 90 degree weather. I did a Walmart run and picked up 6 cans of R34A to keep the AC going till I got back home and to the AC repair shop. If I was buying a 63 or 64 R2, I would definitely look into putting AC into it.

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What does it cost to add A/C to an R2?

I just priced units at the Zephyr Hills Swap meet last week for my 74. The least expensive (US Made) was from Mike Brown (Rainbow Products) out of N.C.. He said the smaller unit would not be sufficient. The larger unit is $850 complete for SBC free shipping at show. Unit Dimensions 7"X8"X20". This is a unit with AC, Heat and Defrost. Looked pretty good.

Vintage Air was about $1200 or so but in either case you would need to check about brackets for a Stude Engine.

Mike handles both Vintage Air and the one I described above. Here's the link

http://www.rainbowpr...=140&Itemid=114

Here's a link to Bob Johnstones site about installing in an R2. Explore there as it is a wealth of info.

http://www.studebake.../AIR/r2air.html

Bob

Edited by Avanti83
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  • 3 weeks later...

Getting back to the original question,,, You have to ask yourself, where your talents lead lead you. If you are unable to do the mechanical work, body work, electrical, fit and finish....buy an R1 or R2 finished. On the other hand, if your talents are multiple buy a project car. Keep in mind that $$$ adds up quick on a project! Take it from somebody that has done more cars than I care to list. " ALWAYS", find a car , LOOK very carefully, and PRICE repairs. The Studebaker Avanti is "The " most unique cars in existence'. and worth the effort! No matter what the condition: check the frame and hog troughs, check the engine #'s in front of the intake manifold, (R****) for R1, (RS****) for R 2..................Good Hunting!

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Good luck in the hunt for a nice Avanti. That nice car might be just around the corner, literally. In 2010 when I was looking in Hemmings at Avanti ads, I saw a car 40 minutes away in Naperville IL. I went to look at the car, loved it and bought it after thinking it over a few days. Please remember the quote that has appeared on this forum and the Studebaker forum many, many times. "There's no such thing as a cheap Avanti." Unless the car you get has been recently restored, be prepared to invest your time, talents and treasure into the car to get it where you want it.

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This is not a complaint. I bought an R2 for which I paid market price for a car that I believed would be a daily driver and look good. It looked good, but was not roadworthy. $10K later it was. That answers the 'treasure' question.

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The actual quote is from John Poulos and probably not original with him, as I've heard it in some form in every car group:

"There's nothing so expensive as a cheap Avanti."

The best car you can find for sale will always be less expensive than building it yourself. Avanti upholstery, paint, body work, chrome, transmission, rear, are all about the same as any Corvette. The Stude engine costs twice as much to rebuild as a SBC and an R2 three times as much. Problem is when it's done, an Avanti is worth half what an equivalent Corvette would bring.

Bottom line - one buys an Avanti because of what it is; the unique style. What it is not is not germaine to the discussion.

jack vines

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By this time Utz, who asked the original question, has either bought an Avanti, or been thoroughly discouraged. My sage advice is buy the best you can afford, but if you don't have ~$20K for a Studebaker, or say $15K for a later 1965-1990 then look at cars you can afford.

Since the Studebakers have achieved classic recognition their prices may go significantly higher...mainly those totally restored and those in proven concours condition. Always try to find help from someone who knows good from not good enough.

Edited by dapy
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Bottom line - one buys an Avanti because of what it is; the unique style. What it is not is not germaine to the discussion.

jack vines

That's about as succinct an explanation of why Avanti owners do what they do as I've seen.

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  • 1 month later...

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